Mikal Bridges is a dream wing prospect in today’s NBA, and he’s finally getting the credit he deserves. Is he the perfect fit for the Philadelphia 76ers.?
The term “3-and-D” gets thrown around a lot when describing NBA wing players. Every team is chasing after the Danny Green-type role player who will space the floor on offense, while being able to defend multiple positions at a high level.
Mikal Bridges, a 6-foot-7 Redshirt Junior from Villanova, could be the next great 3-and-D wing. Somehow, Bridges didn’t generate enough draft buzz last season despite shooting 39.3 percent from 3-point range and a whopping 91.1 percent from the free throw line.
Bridges was also one of the best perimeter defenders in all of college basketball last season, using his freakish wingspan to wreak havoc. The rest of his offensive game looked limited since Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart were creating most of their opportunities on offense. Bridges didn’t look for his own shot or try to create off the dribble.
This season is a different story. With Josh Hart moving on to the pros, Bridges has thrived in an increased offensive role. I had Mikal in the top 20 on my draft board last year because I saw him as a perfect NBA role player. Now, Bridges is showing he can be much more than that. It’s easy to see that he is an elite shooter with great mechanics, but he’s also a reliable finisher at the rim who understands how to use his length to his advantage.
His points per game has nearly doubled, and his already stellar 3-point percentage has improved from last season. His usage percentage jumped from 15.3 percent to 23.6 percent. His steal and block rates, which were already some of the highest among last year’s draft class, rose even higher.
The biggest concern with Mikal is his age; he turns 22 years old in August. This may lower his ceiling as a prospect, but he would be ready to contribute as soon as he steps on the court.
How does Bridges fit with the Sixers.?
In a word: perfectly. It’s like Mikal was developed in a lab to be the final piece to the Philadelphia 76ers’ long-term puzzle. Right now, Philly lacks quality perimeter defending. Robert Covington may be the only real perimeter stopper on the Sixers this season, and they could definitely use someone who could lockdown smaller guards. A lineup of Markelle Fultz, Mikal Bridges, Robert Covington, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid could be the perfect recipe for a perennial contender.
Defensively, that lineup could be an absolute powerhouse. The size and length of that lineup alone would be a nightmare for opposing offenses. Covington, Simmons, and Bridges would be able to switch on to positions one through four, while Embiid lurks around the basket as an elite rim protector. When they inevitably force turnovers with their length, they would be a terror in transition.
On offense, Mikal would provide much-needed outside shooting. Philly currently ranks 26th in the NBA in 3-point percentage at 35 percent, so a reliable shooter would be a welcomed addition. Mikal wouldn’t have to change much about his game. Simmons and Fultz control the ball while Covington and Bridges are spread out on the wings, and Embiid churns out points in the paint.
Adding Bridges would keep the Sixers’ core as versatile as possible while addressing two of their biggest concerns.